As a small boutique hotelier, competing against the big hotel chains can be tough. They have a massive advertising budget that you don’t. But, while the big hotel chains are flush with cash, your property has its advantages; small, boutique hotels can offer a more personal, unique, and intimate experience. Your hotel is not simply a bed, it’s a home away from home for your guests.
Before you start optimizing your hotel website, get out your camera and take some fabulous pictures and videos of your property. Also, go out and take great photos of area attractions your guests will want to visit. Furthermore, make a list of all of the activities people can enjoy during their stay, along with the services your hotel offers.
The local SEO experts from Digital Authority Partners have some great tips for small, boutique hotel owners. You have more to offer compared to the chains, it’s just a matter of letting potential guests know about it.
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Optimize your Hotel for Local Search
Nearly half of all searches are for local products, businesses, and services. If your hotel’s website isn’t optimized for local search, you’re losing out on a valuable resource. By optimizing for local SEO, businesses can increase organic traffic from search engines.
For local searches, search engines rely on things like locally-focused content, social media pages, links, and citations. Moreover, review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor often come up on top. This means you’ll need to claim your business page on those sites. Be sure to address all reviews, positive and negative.
Google My Business
Be sure to take advantage of the free business listing Google provides. On your Google Business page, you can post photos, addresses, phone numbers, and any unique services your hotel offers.
Taking advantage of this free listing is a great way to increase your hotel’s visibility in Google searches. Google may use the information from your business listing for a pin on Google Maps that will come up when people search for accommodations in your area. Not only that, cards featuring hotels in the area will appear on the right side of the search results.
As you can see, taking advantage of Google My Business is a valuable resource for your small hotel. It can get your hotel listing to the top of the local search results with very little effort.
Optimizing Your Website
First of all, your website should have a responsive design that adjusts to any size screen since travellers often search for available hotel rooms from their smartphones. Search engines rank mobile-friendly websites higher, so ensure that your website is mobile-responsive.
Along with that, make sure to reduce the pixels in your photos, so that your website loads quickly, and make sure any embedded videos don’t slow down your load time. Navigation on your website also needs to be intuitive and straightforward.
Next, find keywords guests might use to search for a hotel in your area. Make sure these are in your meta descriptions, titles, and headlines. For example “boutique hotel NYC”, or “hunting lodge Montana” could be relevant keywords for specific locations. You might also include pages on your website dedicated to local activities, such as “Chicago nightlife” or “rock climbing Shawangunks, NY”.
Rich content such as video tours, photo galleries, and guest testimonials are important for small hotels. In fact, more than 60% of travellers want to see videos and photos of the property and hotel rooms. Moreover, they’d like to see videos and photos of the attractions and fun activities in your area.
Also, don’t be afraid to tell your story; if you retired from a career on Wall Street to run a bed and breakfast in the wilds of Wyoming, tell the story. If your location is rich with history, let people know. People are drawn to places and people they resonate with.
It’s not just about guests coming to your hotel, it’s also about the experience they’ll have while they’re there. Your website should not only showcases your hotel but also local activities.
Improve Your Online Reputation
Travellers pour over reviews on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google. People tend to trust what previous guests have to say about your hotel over what you say on your website. This is why positive reviews are so important if you want to attract guests.
You need to actively ask your guests to leave reviews. Not only that, you need to monitor and respond to them. Give a thank you to those who leave positive reviews, and politely address any negative reviews. By doing so, you’ll make a positive impression on travellers browsing review sites.
Partner with Online Travel Agencies
Sites like Travelocity or Expedia allow travellers to plan trips and book accommodations online. Listing with the leading online travel agencies is vital if you want to compete with the hotel chains. Another reason to partner with online travel agencies is that millions of people use these sites exclusively to plan their trips and book flights and hotel rooms.
These sites also allow travellers to apply filters to compare area hotels. You want your hotel to show up in these listings along with the big hotels. Generally, these listings are on a commission basis; if someone books a room at your hotel through the site, the site receives a commission. While the booking might be discounted, it’s still a booking. Consider the commission a business expense. Moreover, if those guests enjoy their stay, they’ll not only come back, but they’ll also tell their friends.
You can’t depend on anyone’s platform when it comes to inviting guests to your boutique hotel. You need a social media presence, positive reviews, an optimized website, and listings with online travel agencies. Forming partnerships with other local businesses can also be helpful.
Frankly, competing with the big chain hotels involves creating a value proposition; why is your boutique hotel a better value to travellers, even if a room costs a little more? Highlight the uniqueness of what your property has to offer, and don’t be afraid to tell your story.